The Story Behind the Painting: “Regular or Unleaded”

“Regular or Unleaded” (watercolor, 14 x 28 in.)

“It was Wednesday night at Plein Air Easton 2018, the last night of painting, and the night of the scheduled nocturne painting,” says Ken Karlic. “I don’t do nocturnes, at least not well, and I didn’t plan to make one, but while painting with a friend earlier in the day, I took a break and saw what I thought was a dream setup — basically a white-on-white painting with dashes of color and lots of structure. I began to set up around 9 p.m., and just as I finished, all the lights of the station went out as they closed. Undeterred, I searched for any of the four headlamps I own, but could find none. Still, I stayed the course.

“I eventually completed the painting in about three hours, holding my iPhone in one hand to provide some light and painting with the other. I started with a barrage of watery paint as I would a typical watercolor, but ended with a consistency more akin to a gooey oil paint. It was so humid, I had to dip into my car two or three times and crank the heat because the painting had absorbed so much moisture.

“It was my last painting of the event — one that I never intended to make — and it’s one of my favorites.”

Is there an interesting story behind your latest painting? Share it with us!

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Kelly Kane
PleinAir Magazine and American Watercolor Weekly Editor-in-Chief With more than 20 years experience in art publishing, Kelly Kane has served previously as Editor-in-Chief of Watercolor Artist magazine and Content Director for The Artist’s Magazine, Drawing, Acrylic Artist, and Pastel Journal. She has interviewed many of the preeminent artists of our time and written numerous articles about painting, drawing, art education and art history. She is now the Editor-in-Chief of PleinAir Magazine and the American Watercolor Weekly newsletter. Click here to send her an email.



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